Nov 6, 2010

The Hierarchy of Condiments

Today, I was at an event at which hamburgers were served. I, in fact, was the one who made the hamburgers. The side-dishes weren't too numerous, but were enough: Doritos, potato salad, ketchup, and onions. I and my adviser decided that of the ten burgers, eight should be made with cheese cooked onto them and two without. A friend of mine wound up taking one of the two bare burgers. He didn't take any Doritos or potato salad. He put ketchup on his burger. That was totally normal. But then, he put onions on his burger.

His cheeseless burger.

Bun, burger, ketchup, onion, bun.


That's right. You're undoubtedly baffled reading this; just imagine how I felt watching this with my own two eyes. Onions but no cheese? Just go and take some sauerkraut but skip the mustard, why don'tcha?

I don't even know what I'm looking at.
I raised my objection thusly: "Uh, excuse me, but did you just put onion on your burger without any cheese?"


"Doesn't that strike you as a little odd?"


"You don't see any problem with going out of order?"

"I don't think there's any sort of 'condiment order.'"


It thus occurred to me that this condiment order isn't the sort of thing that most people generally think about, nor even one that I had ever consciously thought of. But there just seems to be a general etiquette that goes with condiments, an unspoken code. There are certain condiments that are a little more "exotic" than others, and thus are more likely to be objectionable; and unless you have a specific reason to avoid one condiment (e.g., lactose intolerance), and provided all relevant condiments' availability, it would be a breach of etiquette to take a condiment farther down the chain than one higher up.

For fear that I will have excluded too many condiments, I'm afraid I can't offer a functional actual chain of command; however, I can give you a rough idea:

  1. Burger.
  2. Bun.
  3. Ketchup.
  4. Cheese.
  5. Pickles/relish.
  6. Mayonnaise.
  7. Mustard.
  8. Tomatoes.
  9. Lettuce.
  10. Onion.
  11. Bacon.
And that, my friends, is why you never put onions with no cheese.


  1. Tomato and Lettuce are definitely above mustard, and mustard is above mayo.

  2. I highly disagree with this list. For example, Cheese. Cheese should always be touching the burger, above the burger. Frankly, putting ketchup on the burger and then using the ketchup to make the cheese stick on or whatever you seem to be doing here is silly. Also, All liquid-based condiments should be grouped together, either after cheese, or after everything else. Sandwhiching your condiments (for example, mayo-pickle-ketchup) is also silly. Thirdly, All meat-based products should be as close to eachother as possible, with only the cheese buffer barrier separating them. As this is so, bacon should be closer to the burger.
    Aside from that, great post. I like this blog.

  3. Nono, Anonymous #2. You mistake. This isn't the order in which you put condiments on. It's not about putting ketchup on below cheese or whatever. Rather, it's about putting cheese on without ketchup, etc., because some condiments are more rejectable than others. Think of it as a set data type rather than a list.

  4. maybe he was keeping kosher in his own sort of way

  5. Why would you out mayonnaise on a burger if you didn't even put on lettuce and tomato though? And Mayo without mustard? What is this?

  6. Am I the only one who noticed that this BURGER HAS NO BOTTOM BUN?!

  7. Except for yes it does? It's the orange thing below the burger in the diagram.

  8. You are very opinionated about your burgers. You should probably never eat a meal with me.